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Report of the Chief Electoral Officer of Canada Following the Windsor–St. Clair By-Election


This report to the Speaker of the House of Commons, following the by-election in the electoral district of Windsor–St. Clair on April 12, 1999, describes the by-election and Elections Canada's activities since the Sherbrooke by-election on September 14, 1998.

Like the last two by-elections in Port Moody–Coquitlam and Sherbrooke, the Windsor–St. Clair by-election gave Elections Canada the opportunity to test new developments in electoral administration in preparation for the next federal general election, while at the same time providing constituents and candidates in the Windsor–St. Clair by-election with up-to-date and efficient electoral administration and services.

For example, the Windsor–St. Clair by-election saw election officials provided with a version of the new Returning Officer Workstation, innovative new software developed at Elections Canada that integrates all of the current and updated software applications used in the offices of returning officers during electoral events. Extended testing will prepare this software for use in the next federal general election, where it is expected to make a significant contribution to streamlining electoral operations in the field.

As well, for the third time since its establishment in 1997, the National Register of Electors was used to produce the preliminary list of electors for a by-election. The low revision rate augurs well for future electoral events using a preliminary list of electors based on data from the Register.

National Register of Electors data were also used for the first time to produce preliminary electoral lists for a major provincial election on June 3, 1999, in Ontario. This was made possible by an agreement announced April 6, 1999, between Elections Canada and Elections Ontario.

Examples of innovation and improved service such as these are in keeping with key results areas identified in Elections Canada's second strategic plan, released on March 4, 1999. Based on what are believed to be the key demographic, legislative and technological trends that will influence Elections Canada over the next few years, the plan charts a course for the development of innovations and enhancements that will be required to respond to these trends.

Reflecting the course set out in the strategic plan, innovation and improved service were recurrent themes in my April 20, 1999, appearance before the Standing Committee on Procedure and House Affairs to report on main estimates for 1999-2000. These themes underlie Elections Canada's plans and priorities for the coming year, which include:

  • a maintenance program for ensuring high quality electoral lists and improved data matching for the National Register of Electors;
  • the intensified pursuit of opportunities for sharing Register data;
  • the development of a digital national road network for electoral mapping;
  • the continuing development of the Returning Office Technology Centre;
  • the completion of year-2000 compliance preparations; and
  • the replacement of ECAPLE, the current technology for revising electoral lists during an event, with an updated system called REVISE.

As Elections Canada moves towards the 21st century, it does so motivated by an organizational vision that stresses the themes of innovation and service. Building on our established presence as a world leader in election technology and administration, we look forward to playing a pivotal and supportive role in the evolution of cost-effective and efficient processes that serve the electoral requirements of Canadians at all jurisdictional levels.

Jean-Pierre Kingsley